Before this journey, our experience with the disputed regions in the Caucasus – Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh – amounted to a few news articles and flashpoint body-count news tickers drifting across the bottom of our television screens.
Something bad had happened, people had died, but we never truly appreciated or understood the details. Continue Reading »
Peaceful Haghartsin Monastery is nestled in the forest about 15 minutes outside of the northern Armenian town of Dilijan. Continue Reading »
At 1900 meters, Lake Sevan’s waters are icy cold…a toe dip and you’ll lose feeling immediately. Continue Reading »
Garni, a reconstructed Hellenic temple (originally from the 1st century) located at the Avan Gorge. Nearby Geghard is an early Christian rock monastery from the 4th century, augmented by the Zakarians in the 13th century. Catch someone singing in the upper chapel (as we did) – the acoustics are terrific.
How to get there: As public transportation makes it a bit tricky to visit both sites in one day, we took a tour with Sati (21 Mashtots Avenue) for around $8 per person.
Echmiadzin is to the Armenian Apostolic Church what The Vatican is to the Catholic Church. It is believed that St. Gregory the illuminator first envisioned and built Mayr Tachar (Mother Church of Armenia) there in the 3rd-4th century. The monastery remains active with somber looking men in black robes gliding around its grounds. Continue Reading »
Searching hopelessly one night for what turned out to be a defunct traditional Armenian restaurant, we inquired with the locals in Yerevan regarding where we could find good traditional Armenian food. “There,” all fingers pointed in the direction of one of the handful of local kebab joints.
We declare – man cannot live on kebabs alone! And anyway, could grilled minced meat wrapped in lavash (flat bread) really represent the breadth of the Armenian table? Continue Reading »
Every advertisement for Armenia includes an image of Khor Virap Monastery’s silhouette against snow-capped Mt. Ararat.
Khor Virap Monastery can be considered the site of origin of Christianity as Armenia’s state religion. Continue Reading »
Interested in seeing more of the “real” Armenia outside the reaches of Yerevan, we decided to head south to Tatev in the direction of Armenia’s border with Iran. The journey there comes in two parts: a marshrutka (minibus) from Yerevan to Goris (4-5 hours) and a dilapidated 1950s school bus from Goris to Tatev (1.5 hours). Though the trip to Goris was relatively uneventful, we were amazed that the bus to Tatev actually winds and finds its way up hills, across meadows and in and out of a switchback-framed gorge – each and every day in one piece, rain or shine. Continue Reading »
The years immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union were dramatic and bleak for Yerevan – blackouts, food shortages and a feeling of hopelessness defined a candle-lit existence of scarcity.
Today, Yerevan appears up and coming. Moments of widespread scarcity are a distant memory, at least in downtown Yerevan where new buildings, cafes, restaurants, and sophisticated store fronts line the city streets. Large SUVs compete with BMWs and Mercedes as kings of the road, while those with Soviet-era Ladas and Volgas keep their cars sparkling clean in order to earn their place on the streets. Continue Reading »
Between embassy queues for visas, we’ve been taking advantage of Tashkent’s surprising supply of wifi and internet cafes.
As a result, we finally have some photos to show from Armenia and Azerbaijan, thereby completing our visual tour of the Caucasus. Continue Reading »